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6 Ways to Cash in on Spring Cleaning

Selling your unwanted items instead of trashing them can bring in big bucks

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Photo Collage: Danielle Del Plato; (Source: Adobe Stock(5))

As temperatures increase, so does the urge to throw open the windows and do some old-fashioned spring cleaning. It’s a ritual that 74 percent of Americans engage in every year, according to the American Cleaning Institute. But before writing off all your extra stuff as trash or giveaways, consider making some extra money by selling some of those items.

“I think people would be quite surprised to know how much money they can get for their unwanted things,” says Lynnette Khalfani Cox, personal finance expert and author of Bounce Back: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Resilience. In fact, a recent Bankrate survey found that selling your unwanted items brings in an average of $810.

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Ready to cash in on spring cleaning? Here’s how to turn your seasonal organizing session into extra money.

1. Trade out your old tech for new cash.

Planning to join the 84 percent of Americans who will purchase new tech products in the next year, according to the Consumer Technology Association? Instead of throwing out your old TVs, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles or wireless devices or letting them gather dust in the closet, turn them into cash.

Platforms like Decluttr and GadgetGone specialize in selling used electronics. After entering information about the device, you’ll receive an instant valuation. Next, ship the device and the website will pay you the agreed-upon amount when the device is received and listed for sale. Just be sure to stick with reputable sites. Khalfani Cox suggests checking Better Business Bureau ratings and online reviews before shipping your items.

Other websites, including eBay, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, are also popular for selling used electronics. Do some research on similar items on the site to get an idea of the best price before putting anything up for sale.

And, very important: Beware of possible scams, and consider meeting buyers in a police station parking lot or other public place instead of sharing your home address, adds consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch.

2. Clean your closet, make a profit.

If your once-favorite jeans have gone out of style or no longer fit, sell them. Websites like Poshmark and Mercari are popular spots to offload unwanted clothing for a little money.

However, if you want to get highest price possible, you will work a bit for that money. It takes some effort to use these platforms, explains pro organizer Heather Aiello, CEO and founder of The Organized You, a professional organizing company.

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“You need to take good pictures with good lighting from a few angles and add lots of details about the items,” Aiello says. “Clothing that is like new or in good condition and currently in style will do the best on these sites.” 

Sound like too much to do a clothing photo shoot? Skip the photos, descriptions and shipping hassles, and go to brick-and-mortar secondhand shops. There are some nationwide chains, such as Clothes Mentor, Buffalo Exchange and Plato’s Closet, where staff will go through your clothing and make an offer on the spot. Bear in mind that these shops only accept items for the upcoming season, so don’t attempt to sell a winter coat and boots in the spring, says Aiello. Not sure what’s OK to bring? Call ahead and ask before you make the trip. If one of these chain stores isn’t near you, check out your local thrift store options.

3. Designer brands lying around? Make $$ on luxury goods.

There’s a huge market for secondhand luxury goods, which means that clothing, handbags, shoes and jewelry from brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Prada could bring in even bigger bucks. Consignment stores and websites like TheRealReal specialize in designer brands, have experience authenticating items and are the best option for selling high-end items, says Woroch.

They also make it fairly easy, Woroch adds. “They send you a prepaid shipping label so you can send items to the site directly and they handle the sales, taking a cut of the [price]. You can cash out or use your funds for credit toward like new items.”

4. Make a little room, and money, by selling furniture. 

Consignment shops are often the best option for antiques and designer or high-end furniture items, according to Aiello. But it would be a pain (if not impossible) to lug furniture around in your trunk in an effort to get the best price. Instead, Aiello suggests emailing photos and descriptions to consignment stores to gauge their interest. If one is interested in an item, you deliver it to the store, where the staff will market the pieces to customers and take a percentage of the sale price. Make sure to read the fine print to understand the terms.

“There is often one price for the first 30 days, and as time goes on, the price or the percentage [shared with the seller] decreases,” Aiello explains. “Most times, if an item hasn’t sold after 90 days, you go back to pick it up or the consignment shop will donate it.”

For selling less valuable furniture items, Woroch is a fan of sites like Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp. Remember to use caution when selling online; again, be alert for possible scammers.

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5. You can bet on sporting equipment to bring in some cash. 

You ordered a pricey exercise bike but haven’t used it since the pandemic, and the grandkids have outgrown the basketball hoop in your driveway. Sell them.

Listing sporting goods on sites like Sideline Swap, Play It Again Sports, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace won’t just bring in extra money; it might also help clear out space in the garage — often a favorite place for clutter to accumulate.

Woroch notes that you’ll have the best luck selling equipment that’s in season. In spring, bikes, pickleball paddles and kayaks will be in demand, while skis and ice skates may be harder to sell.

6. Household items can go from space hogs to cash cows.

It’s often too time-consuming to list individual small items on online marketplace sites, and the return on investment can be low, so Khalfani Cox suggests holding a yard or garage sale to cash in on the tools, kitchen gadgets, gardening items and other odds and ends you unearth during spring cleaning.

When is the best time to hold a yard or garage sale? Research shows it’s early spring, with summer the next best, as long as temps are not too high. For the biggest financial return, share details about the sale on your neighborhood news site and post lots of signs directing traffic to the sale.

Also, keep things simple with a set price for groups of items. “I’ve seen people do very effective garage sales by grouping items and posting a sign: ‘Everything on this table is $5,’ ” says Khalfani Cox. “It cuts down on negotiation, makes people feel like they’re getting a deal and eliminates a lot of the work of pricing items.”

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